Oscars use food, drinks to lure in guests

GOOD MORNING: One of my toughest jobs when interviewing the celeb arrivees at the Oscars is urging the other guests to move into the theater. It is a bigger problem this year as the show moves to the Shrine. In an attempt to alleviate the red carpet gridlock — and to make the arrival more fun — the Academy will have a party on each of the lobby levels above the first floor. Waiters will pass Wolfgang Puck hors d’oeuvres, so even those guests not going to the Governors Ball can have a sample. There will also be hosted, full bars on all three floors. That’ll help make for a lively audience! … Billy Crystal can now get down to working fulltime on his Oscar stand: he and Robin Williams completed retakes (including a new ending) for “Father’s Day” at 2 ayem Wednesday in Van Nuys. … Watching the Oscars from a hotel suite will be David Helfgott, whose story became seven-times nominated “Shine.” Sure, Helfgott and wife Gillian are invited by Fine Line to attend the Oscarcast; they will be in L.A. for his concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (!) on the 25th and 27th. But he doesn’t want to be in the Oscar-mob milieu before his first appearance. I spoke to Gillian in Toronto, where he is currently 88’ing, and she said they’ll be sure to watch; they’ve watched the Oscars every year from Australia. Yes, he’d met actor Geoffrey Rush and director Scott Hicks before the pic started and was on hand for the first day’s shooting. After its completion, as Hicks related to me, Gillian said the film had changed their lives “and David is loving it.” The pic (which Helfgott has now seen six times) gave him the strength to realize his dream: performing in concert. “He can’t get the smile off his face,” said Gillian, even though he’s received some critical brickbats. Gillian was quick to read me some devastating reviews also written of Rachmaninoff and Chopin! And, she added, her husband received four standing ovations in Toronto Wednesday p.m.

GUESS WHO WILL BE WRITING a weekly column for the National Enquirer: Art Linkletter. He admitted he reads the Enquirer “as I fly a lot for lectures, so I pick it up for a little light reading. And also to see who screwed who!” Linkletter, 84 years young, had just returned from a week of skiing and lectures on the subject of healthy, long living. “It’s not how old you are but how are you old,”he reminded. He’s president of the Center on Aging at UCLA. I had called to tell Linkletter I’d received an invite to attend the taping of a Dick Clark video, “KidTalk 2000,” where Clark will be interviewing kids to encourage them “to talk about whatever pops into their heads.” Hmm, didn’t Linkletter do this on his “House Party” shows for 26 years? Indeed. And doesn’t Linkletter have two cassettes on the market — having already sold 500,000 copies of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”? And didn’t Linkletter also write a book, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things,” which was No. 1 for two years in the non-fiction list? And isn’t Linkletter readying to team with Bill Cosby on a CBS special. Ah yes. Linkletter’s advice to Clark: “He’d better know what he’s getting into: kids say the darnedest things”. … Dina Merrill heads to D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday to lobby with both Republicans (she’s one) and Democrats against the passage of HR 929, the partial-birth abortion bill. She reminds, “This is a medical issue, not a congressional one. Congressmen are not qualified to tell doctors what procedures are necessary for their patients. They have attached language (to this bill) saying if a woman has an abortion at any time during the nine months, for whatever reason, her husband and/or her father can sue the doctor. This is a direct attack on Roe vs.Wade.” Dina urges all to fax protests to Newt Gingrich, (202) 225-4656.

SORRY TO REPORT THAT CHUCK JONES suffered a mild heart attack. He’s recuping at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach. He is in major negotiations with WB to publish an educational children’s book tentatively titled “Daffy Duck for President”. … Singer Lynda Johnson turned away a sold-out crowd, five minutes before showtime Wesdnesday when firemen shuttered the Cinegrill due to a gas leak. She’s now back through Saturday. … The 15th annual “Best of Beverly Hills” fashion show-lunch at the BevHilton chaired by Gloria (Mrs. Mike) Franks raised over $40,000 for the ERAS Center. Barbara Rush was commentator as celeb models strutted in the best of the BevHills shops. … Bob and Dolores Hope wing to New Orleans, where Saturday she christens the Navy’s Bob Hope — a 950-foot T-AKR 300 Strategic Sealift Ship, second in size only to an aircraft carrier. The carrier Ronald Reagan‘s keel will be laid in next February. … “The Bold and the Beautiful” kicked off its 10th anni celebration Thursday when Bradley Bell, exec producer and head writer, unveiled a surprise billboard across the street from CBS Television City. The billboard also celebrated the 70th birthday of his pop Bill Bell Sr., who created “B&B” in 1987 with wife Lee Philip Bell. … Gary Owens’ caricature and voice will be used in commercials for Post’s Fruity Pebbles, along with Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Appearing with Barney and Fred in past commercials were caricatures of Ann-Margret, Tony Curtis — and Rock Hudson.

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